The Amazon Rainforest: The ‘Problem’ With Soybeans Isn’t What You Think

Soybean farmers are suspected of starting numerous fires in the Amazon rainforest to grow more crops—but before you start blaming tofu, take a look at where all that soy ends up.

Brazil is the world’s top exporter of soybeans, but only a fraction of those crops actually winds up on the dinner table. According to Global Forest Atlas, 80% of all soybeans coming from the Amazon are turned into high-protein animal feed.

Soy is Brazil’s most profitable export, but it’s also used domestically to feed farmed animals. In 2017, the country produced 16.3 million tons of soymeal for its domestic market, and more than 90% of that became feed for animals in the meat and dairy industries.

Brazil is also the world’s top exporter of beef. So the rainforest is being burned for pastureland to raise cows who are violently slaughtered, and we’re losing even more forest every day for soybean crops to feed cattle as well.

Deforestation is a problem in the U.S. and elsewhere, too, and the culprits are the same.

Roughly 260 million acres of U.S. forests have been cleared to create cropland to feed animals raised for food. Globally, farmland use could be reduced by more than 75%—an area equivalent to the U.S, China, the European Union, and Australia combined—and still feed the entire world if everyone went vegan.

Anyone who cares about mitigating climate change and deforestation can make a direct impact by leaving animal-derived foods off their plate.

Despite the roaring (illegal) fires in the Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has publicly pledged to open the 2 million-square-mile forest to more farming. It’s painfully obvious that we can’t depend on governmental stewardship to divert this climate change catastrophe. It’s up to us to make a difference.

Many of us feel powerless in the face of environmental destruction. But in just a year, each vegan saves an estimated 401,500 gallons of water, protects nearly 11,000 square feet of forests, and prevents the production of 7,300 pounds of carbon dioxide. As we begin to witness the alarming impact of climate change, living a compassionate lifestyle has never been more vital.

Go vegan or watch the world burn—it’s that simple.

Be on the right side of history—go vegan today, and tell your friends and family to do the same! In addition to helping to preserve the rainforest, you’ll spare nearly 200 animals every year a painful and terrifying life and death.

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